Cornish Snooker Legends - Jonathan Barron
StBlazeySnooker | On 10, Jan 2013
To start of 2013 with a bang we have managed to get a fabulous interview and life story from Cornish Snooker & Mevagissey legend Jonathan Barron
Jonathan Barron Mevagissey born 1937
I started playing aged about 10 on a ¾ size table in a loft above my fathers shop in Mevagissey. My father was a very keen billiard and snooker player and in fact was the first president of the St Blazey and District snooker league ,formed, I think in 1947. My brother Peter, 11 years my senior, was also a fine player, county standard , became my greatest supporter taking me to London for each match.
In 1962 , pre motorway, a trip by the old A30 to London could take many many hours!. Mevagissey ex. pats living in London and near by would always come to support me at the Burroughs and Watts hall in Soho Square, I have many great memories from that time. Several Mevagissey lads also started their playing career on that same ¾ size table and because we had started early became good players before we were able to join the local club at 15. In fact in the 60’s six of those lads went on to represent Cornwall in county matches – Cliff Rowe, the Mills brothers Graham and Melville, Leighton Varcoe, Clive Burt and myself.
Our team, the Mevagissey Social club team, were very successful winning the St Blazey league many times, and also in the 60’s won the county team championship 6 times in a row. Our main rivals were Redruth British legion and Helston Godolfin. There were many fine players in the Redruth team Doug Thorncroft, Ivan James, Roy James, Dick Troon and Charlie Gay.
Helston too had top players Doug Jenkins et al and were a bit of a bogey team for us as they managed to beat us quite often. During this time the St Blazey league had other fine first class players such as George Rundle, Bill Toms, Horace Fugler ( a county champion) and Willie Thomas who I think was also a county champion.
English & World amateur Champion
I first entered the English championship in 1959- qualifying to play in London but losing in the first round to Mario Berni 5-2. I next played in this competition in 1962 and was a surprise finalist. After the first day I led 8-3 but then collapsed badly and lost 11-9. After losing again several times I reached the final again in 1969 against Ray Edmonds in Grimsby- this was once again a repeat of the 1962 final, again I led 8-3 and again lost 11-9 obviously not good at ‘closing the deal’. I reached the final again in 1970 playing Sid Hood in Lincoln, this time scraping through to win 11-10 winning on the pink in the 21st frame. Squeaky bum time!
The finalists of the English Championship competition automatically qualified for the world championship to be played in Edinburgh in November 1970. Sid and I won our qualifying groups and met again in the final. I was leading 8-2, when we were told that if I won one more frame on the Friday evening we would have to stop playing as there would be nothing much to televise live on the Saturday Grandstand show. I promptly lost the next 4 frames, not deliberately I may add, but now I was only leading 8-6 so there was ample coverage for the BBC on the Saturday. The next day I rallied and won 11-7, cue a very boozy night with all my supporters who had travelled all the way to Scotland to watch and support me.
“I won the English again in 1971 in London versus Doug French of Lancashire 11-9 and made it a hat trick by winning again in 1972 versus Ray Edmunds 11-9. This was made even more special as the final of that competition was played in Truro, organised by the Cornwall Association.”.
I won the English again in 1971 in London versus Doug French of Lancashire 11-9 and made it a hat trick by winning again in 1972 versus Ray Edmunds 11-9. This was made even more special as the final of that competition was played in Truro, organised by the Cornwall Association.
I had told my wife in 1970 that I would defend my world trophy in Ceylon (Sri Lanka ) in 1972 and then finish playing and concentrate on my family-2 daughters, and business. Unfortunately due to political problems with South Africa the contest was not played in Ceylon and was played in Wales instead, in January 1973. We found a wet, cold, snowy Wales but we were warmed by the friendly hospitality. I lost in the semi-final against Ray Edmonds 8-6 after leading 6-4 (same old problem). I also lost in the English that year in a semi-final against Marcos Owen 6-5 after leading 5-2. and to cap it all that year I lost the Cornish championship to Charlie Gay, so my final year was a losing one.
During seasons 1969-70, 1970-72, 1971-72 I played 54 matches of 3 or more frames and lost 1 -to Jack Rogers (Éire) in the 1970 world championship.
First ever televised century
In 1962 the 4 semi finalists of the English championship qualified to play in an ITV tournament against 4 professionals, Fred Davis, Jack Rae, Rex Williams and Kingsley Kennerly- the amateurs received 11 points per frame and won all four matches in the first round.
I went on to win the final against Ron Gross. It was played again in 1965- this time 8 amateurs played and I was successful in the final against Mark Berni. In my match against Mark Wildman I made a break of 107 -question – was this the first live century break made on nationwide T.V?
In 1967 I was lucky enough to be invited to go to South Africa with Ray Reardon. We were to be away 7 weeks playing in a test series against that country. England won the series 2-1 and the standard of snooker in S.
Africa was very good- in fact, Manny Francisco and Jimmy Van Rensburg played in the 1973 world championship in Wales. Manny reached the final before losing to Ray Edmonds. The trip to South Africa was a fantastic experience (thanks to my wife for letting me go as we had only been married for 8 months!!)
In 1969 the home internationals began- England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland. Leighton and I played in the first one versus Wales in Aberavon, and England v Wales was always hardest fought. The ones that I played in finished 10- 8 to England, 9 – 9 in Neath, 9 -9 in Hull and 14-4 to England in London. In the Neath match Denis Taylor a proud Irishman played for England!
I carried on playing in the St Blazey league for Mevagissey until year 2000- In all I played 1034 league matches. During these later years Bugle was the leading team and top players in the league included Andrew best, Stuart Bowden, Richard Opie, and of course Leighton Varcoe who continued playing well. Leighton, Stuart and Andrew became county champions.
My last game was at St Blazey in 2000 against D. Hill and I lost 42-57.!
Jonathan Hicks Barron b 2/3/1937
- Cornwall’s Youth Champion 4 times
- Cornwall Champion 13 times
- Cornwall Pairs Champions 14 times (unbeaten)
- English Champion 3 times
- World Champion 1970
My grateful thanks for my career in snooker must go firstly to my late Father and Brother for introducing me to the game, encouraging and supporting me . My wife for not moaning when I played so often ( my record was 21 days on the trot, including Sundays, and seven weeks in South Africa) and to all my friends and supporters who over the years travelled to London, Grimsby, Scotland and Wales, with a special mention for those from ‘down west’ who also came to support me Bob, Roy and Willie etc. For wonderful memories I thank them ‘one and all’.